Is it possible to train people in non-violence? The
question is neither unnatural nor irrelevant. It is a certain disposition of
the mind which results in Ahimsa or non-violence. The former can be the
subject of training; not the latter. The same logic will apply in the case of
violence. A disposition can be got rid of as well as transformed. Its outcome
can neither be removed nor transformed.
The Origin of Violence
Man by instinct is given to acquisition and accumulation.
It is here that violence is born. Transforming the above instinct is the best
means of bringing about non-violence. Training in non-violence lies solely in
making efforts to rouse the awareness of non-acquisition.
We can't even think of training in non-violence without a
thorough discussion of and reflection on concepts like individual ownership,
collective ownership, state ownership, co-operative or mutual ownership,
centralised economy and decentralised economy. The tremendous attraction held
out by individual ownership has been responsible for the success of the above
system for economic development. Both collective and state ownership have
beaten a retreat as is evident from the development of the past one decade.
Co-operative ownership has fared no better, either. The reason is not far to
seek. The instinct for ownership is at its strongest only at the level of the
individual. In all other cases it gets enfeebled. This means there is a direct
relation between acquisition and violence. The instinct for ownership leads to
acquisition, which in turn breeds violence.
Training in Non-violence : The Beginning
The solution to the problem of violence, lies in answering
the question: where does one begin for training people in non-violence? The
first step to non-violence is fearlessness. Even a thousand repetitions of the
mantra 'Do not fear' will not rid an individual of fear so long as he
is attracted by the body and infatuated by wealth and material objects. How
can the aim be achieved by nursing the cause of fear in the mind and repeating
the lesson of fearlessness orally? In what way can one block the flow of fear
or abort its rise? A proper and practical understanding of these issues is
vital. Then only can fearlessness become the first stage of training in
The Seed of Non-violence
Proprietorship, accumulation and fear are interrelated. It
is not easily possible to get rid of them. However, they can be
cleansed refined and disciplined. Therein lies the seed of non-violence. The
search for the means of refinement is difficult. Short-lived discipline or
refinement is easy; making it lasting is very difficult. But, though difficult
it is not impossible.
The First Practical Step
The violence takes its course from affection to thought and
from thought to action. Therefore, the first step on the road to training in
no-violence is sublimation and refinement of affections. The mind has to be
trained to ensure that only positive, and no negative, affections are
The Formula for Physical Training
It comprises Yogic Postures (asanas) and
rhythmic control of breath (pranayama): Padmasana (Lotus
Posture), Shashankasana (Moon Posture), Yogmudra
(Scaling Posture), Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Posture),
Sarvangasana (All limbs Posture), Matsyasana (Fish
Posture), Godhikasana (Posture adopted while milking a cow) etc.
affect the Nervous and the Endocrine systems. They weaken the physical factors
responsible for violence. Anuloma-Viloma, Chandrabheadi,
Narhishodhan, Ujjayi Shitali (Pranayam that cools the
system) and similar Pranayam purge the body of the causative factors of
The Formula for Mental Training
The formula for mental training is Meditation.
Kayotsarga (total relaxation) Deerghashvas Preksha
(Perception of Deep Breathing or diaphragmatic Breathing), Samvrittic
Shvas Preksha (Perception of Exhalation and Inhalation
alternatively through Right and Left Nostrils) and similar meditational
practices contribute to the development of concentration. Violence increases
directly in proportion to the degree of distraction. So, the less the
distraction, the less the violence.
The Formula for Affective Training
More important than physical and mental training is the
training of affects. The formula for practising it consists of meditation on
the Chaitanya Kendra (Psychic Centres) and on the
Abhamandal or Leshya (Psychic Spectrum). Contemplative practices are
useful for all types of training --- physical, mental and effective.
The Base and the Field of Application
What has been expounded above is a method of individual
training. In fact, training in non-violence is given only at the level of the
individual. Its application, of course, takes place at the level of society.
It is therefore, not inappropriate to say that the above training has the
individual as its base and society as its field of application. The same holds
good of violence. Accordingly, the most important way of bringing about a
non-violent society is making individuals non-violent and all training should
be directed at this end.
Family Life and Non-violence
Society implies inter-relatedness of and interaction among
individuals. Human relationships and rectitude in behaviour constitute
training in non-violence. Its beginnings are best made in the family. It is
not proper to view violence as being limited to wars and terrorist activities.
Wars take place only sometimes and in some places, whereas violence manifests
itself within the family almost daily. It erodes mental peace, which in turn
contributes to the spread of violence on a wider scale. Peaceful coexistence
within the family is an important guarantee of the success of training in
non-violence. Intolerance, lack of self control and overreaching ambition
poison the peace and happiness of a family. A curb on them and practice in
avoiding them will automatically rid the family of the prevalence of violence.
Non-violence in the family means Training in
Anekanta (non absolutism)
For there to be non-violence within the family, one major
requirement is the spirit of reconciliation. It is possible to reconcile
diverse thoughts and, tastes. To achieve it, training in Anekanta can
be exteremely useful, for Anekanta admits of autonomy only in a relative
sense. It accepts coexistence only to the extent that such acceptance does
not, condone injustice. It approves of quality without disregarding unequal
degrees of competence. The pillars of peace should be strong enough to
withstand the strains of diversity. Training in Anekanta gives due place to
diversity, so long as it is not at the cost of unity. Making people aware of
this coexistent duality---diversity and unity--- will be an important step
towards building a non-violent society.
Causative Factors of Violence in Society
There are innumerable social factors, some of them having
come down to us since a long time past, that cause violence in society,
casteism, racialism, apartheid, regionalism and mass poverty, to name but a
few. Time and again they result in social conflagrations.
Racialism and discrimination based on colour can be best
tackled by inculcating all the people with the spirit of common humanity.
However, the problem of poverty is a bit complex. One aspect of the problem
lies in the disparity between an inadequate supply of consumer goods and an
ever increasing number of consumers. The problem gets compounded for want of a
proper and just sense of sharing. A high premium, is placed on individual's
comfort and acquisition, while the desire to share things equally and justly
is at a heavy discount.
The Basic Unity of Mankind
The basic unity of all the people of the world should not
be disregarded while conceding the usefulness of the territorial integrity and
independence of each nation. The instincts of self aggrandizement and over
ambition prove subversive of world unity. Of course, man has not yet developed
enough to be able to practise equity and justice in his treatment of others.
This keeps the regional and geographical divides in the world alive.
Extirpation of geographical boundaries is not a prerequisite to the creation
of a non-violent society. But it is imperative that these boundaries are not
allowed to snap the tender thread of humanity.
Training in Non-violence : The Basic Element
The basic element of training in non-violence is a change
of heart or mental training. The following specific principled formulas are
required to be pail of the training for bringing about a change of heart
Factors Causing violence Effects
1. Greed Tendency to acquire
2. Fear Manufacture and use of armaments
3. Hostility Tendency to take revenge
4. Anger Internecine quarrels
5. Egoism Hatred and discrimination based on
considerations of caste and colour
6. Cruelty Exploitation and killings
7. Intolerance Sectarian strife
8. Absolute(as opposed to relative) Obduracy and the
thinking disregard the viewsof others.
9. Absolute behaviour Tendency to practise non co-operation
in communal life.
These instincts turn people violent. Change of heart means
overcoming these instincts and cultivating new refined habits instead.
Formulas of Mental Training
The antidote to greed:
Training in freeing oneself from the infatuation for
material objects and the body.
The antidote to fear:
Training in cultivating fearlessness and in strengthening
the will not to manufacture or trade in armaments.
The antidote to hostility:
Training in cultivating friendship and in eschewing the
tendency to take revenge.
The antidote to anger:
Training in learning to forgive.
The antidote to egoism:
Training in practising humility, non-violent opposition and
non co-operation with injustice.
The antidote to intolerance:
Training in cultivating goodwill for other sects and the
ability to put up with diverse views.
The last two factors causing violence can be countered by
training people in relativism of thinking and behaviour. Negative feelings are
to be countered by training in feeling positively.
Stopping Non-essential violence
Training in non-violence will have as one of its
constituents making the people aware of the need to give up nonessential
violence. Wastage of water, overmining, killing innocent creatures and people
are examples of non-essential violence. It has made man cruel and has
disturbed the balance of nature.
Physical Health and Non-violence
There is an intrinsic relation between physical health and
non-violence. Ill health generates violence. One of the factors responsible
for people committing suicide is inadequacy of sugar in the blood. Likewise,
disorders of liver and spleen also contribute to violent thoughts. Therefore,
training in differential dietetics and Science of Healthy Living is a
vital component of training in non-violence.
Economic Health and Non-violence
Training in the following subjects is necessary for the
economic health of an individual as well as society:
Voluntary parting with wealth
Decentralisation of the economy
Economics and World Peace
Economics and a Healthy Society
Legitimate Means of Making Money
Just Distribution of Wealth
Restraint in consumerism and limitation of wants
It need not be emphasised that the, physical mental,
emotional and economic health have all to contribute to the creation of a
non-violent society. They have, therefore, to be the bases of training in
The Base and Fields of Experimentation in Training in Non-violence
The success of the methodology of training in non-violence
depends on the development of an individual mentality irrevocably committed to
non-violence. This has to be practised in the following areas:
Individual as a member of the family
Individual as a social being
Individual as a citizen of a nation
Individual as a citizen of the world.
Today people are divided ideologically and regionally. But
non-violence requires a unified and integrated personality. In order to
develop it, a multipronged programme of training is necessary. The thought of
a non-violent society disregarding the individual is as illusory as that of a
non-violent individual without a non-violent society. The two are relative to
each other. This basic fact should not be ignored while thinking of the
training in non-violence.